It’s the single largest investment the foundation has ever received and CEO Mike Repole is committed to growing the company and foundation together.
BodyArmor has announced a partnership with the Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation that will include a $24 million joint donation from the sports beverage company and its co-founder Mike Repole — the single largest that the MMSF has ever received.
Alongside the multimillion dollar gift is a new strawberry grape flavor of BodyArmor called “Mamba Forever.” In addition, BodyArmor has committed to refurbishing a minimum of eight basketball courts across the country this year. The companies will also work together to fund youth clinics and renovate sports facilities.
“I’m going to make sure this foundation gets bigger than the Ronald McDonald House,” BodyArmor co-founder Mike Repole told Boardroom. “What Vanessa and the girls want to do for underserved boys and girls with the Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation is to change lives. It’s not just about getting them the physical tools or on the courts in the right uniforms. It’s about what it does for kids mentally and confidence-wise. Vanessa is going to change hundreds of thousands of lives, it is amazing. I wouldn’t let BodyArmor fail with Kobe and I’m going to make sure I’m by her side, step by step to make this foundation as big as it can be.”
Vanessa Bryant renamed her husband’s charity the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation back in 2020. Last year on May 1, she launched the apparel line, Mambacita, on what would have been Gianna Bryant’s 15th birthday.
But that came amid turmoil. In April of 2021, the Bryant Estate severed ties with Nike after not being able to come to terms on a new deal. After taking a near-year-long break, the two sides agreed to terms in March. The first official shoe release took place on Sunday with the Mambacita Sweet 16 colorway in the Kobe 6 Protro model. All proceeds of the shoe have been donated to the MMSF, with many more models expected to be released.
Kobe Bryant initially invested $6 million into Body Armor back in 2014. The Bryant Estate then netted over $400 million when Coca-Cola bought BodyArmor last year for $5.6 billion in a deal that valued the company at $8 billion.
“Kobe has won NBA championships, MVPs gold medals, he won an Oscar and an Emmy, but to me [BodyArmor] is his entrepreneurial championship,” Repole said. “This is his business Oscar or Emmy.”
And while the official investment came in 2014, for many years, Repole says, he stopped the late Lakers legend from investing in the company.
“I told him we were doing between $4 and $6 million [in revenue], I didn’t tell him we were losing between $12 million and $16 million back-to-back years,” he said. “I told him [BodyArmor] had a 1% chance. I was coming clean with him and I expected him to say thanks for looking out for me. Instead, he looked at me and said “1%?” and he repeated it a couple times. He said “I grew up in Italy, I was drafted when I was 17 [and] my dad had to sign my contract, five championships, gold medals, MVPs… 1%? Those are the best odds I’ve ever been given in my f***** life.”
After an $8 billion valuation, Repole is elated he accepted Bryant’s money.
“This brand would be maybe 25% of its size if it wasn’t for Kobe Bryant,” he said. “I can even say without the credibility and push he gave us in the early days, maybe [BodyArmor] doesn’t even make it.”
As for what’s next for BodyArmor, Repole told Boardroom one of the reasons the company sold to Coca-Cola was to begin selling its product globally.
“Just like how Kobe was this big, global brand and wherever he went everybody knew him,” he said. “BodyArmor has that future in sports drinks across the globe.”
For now though, he wants all eyes on the MMSF.
“The BodyArmor story is great but this is really about the MMSF,” added Repole. “This $24 million from me and BodyArmor is the beginning.”